Patient Safety Awareness Week 2014

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Healthcare professionals play a significant role in providing answers and resources to the injured and chronically ill. These doctors, physicians, nurse and health professionals have dedicated their lives to protecting those in need. They are often placed at the forefront during life-threatening situations. Thus, having clear communication performing thorough examinations, and offering proper guidance is imperative.

Patient Safety Awareness Week, set for the first week of March every year, is a worldwide campaign led by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) to focus on the improvement of patient safety—specifically diagnostic error—in healthcare settings. It’s their mission to ensure hospitals and other healthcare facilities adopt practices that reduce patient harm and improve quality care.

Experts estimate that one in every 10 diagnoses is wrong, delayed or completely missed, resulting in 40,000-80,000 preventable deaths per year in the U.S. Unfortunately, mistakes do occur, but becoming more cognizant of these challenges will help reduce those probabilities.

6 Patient Safety Challenges in Healthcare

  1. An operation is done at the wrong part of the body or person, also referred to as wrong-site surgery.
  2. The patient receives the wrong medication or right medication, but in the wrong dosage or manner.
  3. An individual gets infected while being treated for a medical condition at the facility or even, sometimes, at home.
  4. Falls are the most common cause of injury, especially in more than one-third of adults over 65 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. A patient is readmitted due to poor care, they were prematurely discharged or didn’t receive adequate information to aid in recovery.
  6. A patient received a wrong diagnosis, which means the diagnosis is inaccurate, missed, or unintentionally delayed. This error can be due to unusual symptoms of disease, an uncooperative patient, system-related problems and failing to fully examine the symptom. Click here for a more detailed list.

Despite these challenges, not all statistics are negative when it comes to patient safety. According to the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM), all-cause readmission rates fell in 2009-2011 from 15.6 percent to 15.3 percent, a modest 0.3 percent. Today, hospitals will face reimbursement penalties if readmission rates exceed higher than expected amounts. During the fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 hospitals experienced a drop in their inpatient hospital payments of up to 1 percent. The maximum readmission penalty will increase to 3 percent in 2015.

Great strides, nevertheless, have been made to improve diagnostic errors. On October 1, 2014, all U.S. healthcare facilities will be required to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. This new transition will offer more than 14,400 different codes and permits the tracking of many new diagnoses. In a recent blog post, we shared some tips to help your organization prepare for ICD-10 implementation.

Although I see headway in forthcoming years, much still needs to be done to get to where we should be. Patient safety should be recognized as a yearly-round joint effort not just between physicians and staff, but patients as well. The American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety (ASPPS) was established to advance patient safety and involve engaged, focused, and committed individuals to accelerate the delivery of patient care.

What policies has your healthcare organization established to ensure patient safety is among your top priorities?

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Sources: npsf.org